a fresh perspective on Genius Day
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about my real or perceived struggles with expanding Genius Hour to a full day in third grade. My effort to give over 20% of my student's workweek, had left me with more questions than answers. I had even considered scrapping the idea altogether or at the very least returning to an hour a week.
I've been reflecting on the questions I posed in that post and have come to realize (as usual) that it's not the kids in the room, but my own perception of what student-driven learning should look like that caused me to doubt the learning that was happening. I had let my perspective be influenced too much by what other teachers might think about the noisy, chaotic, yet, collaborative, creative, engaged maelstrom of learning that occurs on Fridays.
Lately, however, I realize that I've been inching back toward the trunk. The closer I got, the more focused on the trunk I became. And that's when the questions began. I'd lost the perspective from the end of the branch. I began to view what was happening in my classroom during Genius Day not as learning, but as something more akin to free time. I'd lost perspective.
I began to see the paper airplanes flying around the room as distractions instead of experiments in aerodynamics, velocity and materials; the carpet of construction paper as a waste of resources instead of a study in area and spacial awareness; and the tiny pieces of home furnishings and copious saved images as a waste of time instead of a natural beginning to the creative process.
I've begun inching my way back out to my place on the limb thanks to my PLN and especially Joy Kirr @JoyKirr and Mark White @mwhitedg whose comments and posts helped me realize how fortunate I am to be able to balance on a limb at all, especially when so many teachers are tethered to the trunk either by policy, pedagogy or both.
I am in no way going to reduce Genius Day back to an hour. It's become too much a part of my classroom DNA. The mere mention of not having Genius Day due to a field trip, special visitor or assembly is met with groans and anguished looks of disbelief on the faces of my budding entrepreneurs.
I'm heading back out to my space on the limb. It's not as stable, but the perspective is much better.